Continuous Flow

Moving products through a production system without separating them into lots.

Comments: Basically, once you begin producing a product you keep it moving through the value stream without placing it into a holding area for later processing. This helps avoid “batching” and increasing inventory levels.

In the ideal production system we attempt to achieve “1-piece flow” in which each product is passed or moved along in the production process independently until it is completed and ready to be shipped to a waiting customer. There may be 100 pieces in a shipping container, but each piece was processed individually throughout the value stream. Kanban is often used to help products and materials flow.

If a product needs a process like anodizing for example, it may flow continuously until a certain point at which time this process must take place and then be “batched” for anodizing (perhaps mixed with other products). It can later be individually processed until its’s completion. This would not be purely a “continuous flow” process but practical reality.